A buzzing preview event saw the launch of a free exhibition featuring photographic portraits of local cultural heroes.
More than 150 people including designers, artists, writers and musicians attended the opening of The One Chair Project which is now open to the public at 61 Watergate St Row South, Chester.
The converted empty shop unit is also home to the ‘Industry’ co-working experiment and workshops which sit alongside.
Sam Ryley’s #OneChair Twitter project allowed the public to nominate and vote for those deserving recognition for their cultural and forward-thinking contributions to the city.
The acclaimed photographer then captured images of each individual sitting in the same leather chair.
Featured subjects include: Russell Kirk, creative director of the Midsummer and Winter Watch parades, Matt Baker , Theatre in the Quarter artistic director and Andy Foster, of Andy Foster Architects and vice president of Chester Business Club.
Alice Elliott, founder of the Chester chapter of the global ‘Good for Nothing’ community, who was among those pictured in the chair, said “I love how unlikely the bunch of folk in the One Chair are, we’re not dignitaries, titled, wealthy or famous. I am, and everyone else seemed to be too, just delighted to be recognised in the most flattering format there is – artistic expression – for doing stuff we love with our community.
“It’s not the chain restaurants, and big developments that create the place, but the economy of ‘the unlikelies’ that is the beating heart of Chester.”
Strengthening city's creative industries
Andrew Davey from design studio Reasonably Good is running a creative co-working space in the gallery alongside the exhibition to ‘draw attention to and strengthen our creative industry here in Chester’.
He added: “We want to show co-working can thrive in Chester. It functions well in other cities. So if we can make it work we can retain creative talent here. Collaboration between small business and university can work.”
Photographer Sam commented: “The launch was amazing. We had a great cross section of our community attend and that’s what it’s all about. Mixing everyone up and getting them communicating with each other.”
Co-organiser Tom Whitley said in his speech at the event: “We’d love this to inspire more people to do more things, bigger and better and for them to not have to have a feeling that they succeeded in spite of some prevailing conditions but because Chester is a place that welcomes new ideas.”
The creative hub has so far attracted more than 35 creative and small business owners to work in the space and more than 100 individual visitors to the exhibition. A radio show for local radio station FLIPSIDE is also to be recorded in the space.
To keep up to date with these projects and creative news, people are encouraged to use the hashtag: #makechester